UHCL center collaborates on research for children with autism
HOUSTON — University of Houston-Clear Lake’s Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities has a unique opportunity to help strengthen the research of children with autism spectrum disorders through its participation in LoneStar LEND (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities), a collaborative training program developed at the Children’s Learning Institute at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).
“We’re excited to be part of this innovative program,” said LEND board faculty member, UH-Clear Lake Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities Director and Professor of Psychology Dorothea Lerman. “Research is vital to the continuing investigation of autism spectrum disorders and is only possible through support from programs like LoneStar LEND.”
UH-Clear Lake student Sarah Antal, under the direction of Assistant Professor of Psychology Sarah Lechago, is currently studying “The Sequencing Effects of Expressive and Receptive Language,” while student Karilyn Rote is researching “Effects of a Walking Program Consisting of Pedometer Use, Self-Monitoring, and Reinforcement on Weight, Aberrant Behaviors, and Quality of Life in a Residential Care Facility.” Rote’s project mentor is Assistant Professor of Behavior Analysis Jennifer Fritz.
Said Lerman about joining the LEND program, “I thought that it was a great opportunity to bring a critically needed training program to our state, and I was excited about the possibility of collaborating with other autism professionals in Houston.”
The LoneStar LEND program is funded through a $2.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration and is the first program of its kind in Texas. It is one of 43 LEND programs located at universities or major children’s hospitals across the United States and uses an interdisciplinary training model to provide educational options for students, health care professionals, parents, teachers and the general public. Those options include seminars led by both LEND faculty and families of children with autism spectrum disorders and neurodevelopmental disabilities.
The LEND training model focuses on core disciplines, including audiology, speech-language, pathology, occupational and physical therapy, psychology, medicine, health care administration, nursing, nutrition, special education, pediatric dentistry, social work, genetic and family counseling.
Approximately 730,000 children nationwide have an autism spectrum disorders, with an estimated 62,000 children in Texas alone.
Four other institutions are involved in the program including UTHealth, Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Woman’s University and University of Houston.
“The LEND team hopes to change the face of autism in Texas,” said Dr. Pauline A. Filipek, director of The Autism Center at the Children’s Learning Institute and the program director of LoneStar LEND. “As a state, we lack individuals adequately trained to not only educate individuals with autism spectrum disorders but other professionals on how to provide these services as well.”
For more information about the LoneStar LEND program, visit http://www.LoneStarLEND.org. To find out more about UH-Clear Lake’s Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities, visit http://www.uhcl.edu/CADD.